High school students who are gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely than heterosexual students to smoke, drink, use drugs and engage in other unhealthy behaviors, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The survey of 156,000 high school students is the largest of its kind conducted by the federal government, Reuters reports. The survey found that 15.4 percent of gay and lesbian students said they had driven a car while drinking alcohol within the last 30 days, compared with 7.8 percent of heterosexual students. Almost 28 percent of gay and lesbian students said they had smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day in the previous month, compared with 9 percent of heterosexual students. The survey found that gay, lesbian and bisexual students were also more likely than heterosexual teens to engage in sexual risk behaviors, suicidal behaviors and violence.
“This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people,” Howell Wechsler, Ed.D, M.P.H, Director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a news release. “Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination and victimization. We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks.”